Go Away With … Landon Donovan

Photo credit: Robert Mora/LA Galaxy

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Media Services
June 7, 2011

Landon Donovan is the face of American soccer. An all-time leader in scoring and assists for the U.S. National Soccer team, which currently is competing in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the 29 year old is also a star player for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Donovan, who is based out of Southern California, is a four-time winner of the U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year.

“Living where I do provides you with the opportunity to get away to places like San Diego, Newport Beach and Santa Barbara without really having to travel that far,” says Donovan. “And Big Bear Mountain is always an awesome place to retreat to in the winter or summer.”

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. I have been to Bora Bora twice now and it is by far the most beautiful place in the world. The weather is perfect, the water is beautiful, the people are nice and the food is incredible. It is the perfect vacation destination!

Q. What are your favorite hotels?

A. I stayed in an over-water bungalow at the Four Seasons Bora Bora and it was the most at peace I have ever been on a vacation. The water is crystal clear and you can jump in from your back porch. On one of my few winter vacations, I stayed at the Four Seasons Jackson Hole in Wyoming. If I could paint a picture of what I wanted a hotel or resort to look like in the winter, this would be it. When I was in my early 20s, I did a Nike photo shoot in Banff, Calgary, Alberta, and stayed at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.  The hotel overlooks Lake Louise and the views are incredible.

Q. What are your favorite restaurants?

A. Nobu at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas will always be one of my favorites because it was my first time going to a sushi restaurant and I loved it. There’s a little French restaurant in Manhattan Beach, Calif., called Cafe Pierre that I absolutely love. There are items on the menu that you wouldn’t generally get in other nice restaurants. Lastly, when I go home to Redlands, I always go to my favorite Mexican restaurant called Casa Maya. As its name indicates, the food is Mayan inspired and it’s more unique and authentic than other Mexican food you might find in Southern California.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. I generally take my iPad and any book that I’m currently reading. It’s a good way to pass the time on planes, buses, etc.

Q. What are your five favorite cities?

A. Chicago in the summer and fall; Seattle in the summer; Manhattan Beach all year round. New York City in the winter — but only for three or four days max — and Vancouver.

Q. What city has the most vocal soccer fans?

A. L.A. has the best fans; Seattle probably has the most vocal. And from what I’ve seen on TV — I haven’t played there yet — Portland is giving Seattle a run for its money in that department.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. Fiji, Cayman Islands, Tibet, Burma, China.

Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?

A. My worst vacation memory ended up being one of my best. I went to St. Lucia and we stayed at a resort that has rooms that overlook the ocean and the Piton Mountains. The problem is, the rooms only have three walls, meaning the fourth wall is open to nature. Our room was situated on the side of a mountain and there were tons of bugs, spiders, frogs, mosquitoes, etc. They had nets around the beds, but I woke up to go to the bathroom one night and almost had a heart attack when I saw the mass of bugs that had accumulated on the net. It was a little uncomfortable at first, but it ended up being an incredible vacation once we got used to being one with nature and enjoyed it!

Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?

A. I generally let the experts tell me where to go, but I do like to go online and read as much as possible before making a decision.

© 2011 JAE-HA KIM



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